Being stopped by a police officer while driving in Ohio is a scary situation. If the officer suspects you are drunk, they may request you take field sobriety tests; however, failing doesn’t automatically mean you’re drunk. There are ways to challenge the results.
Understanding field sobriety tests
Police use field sobriety tests to determine whether a person might be driving drunk. They aren’t 100% accurate, mistakes can happen and people can fail. They include the one-leg stand test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk-and-turn test.
The one-leg stand test is self-explanatory; it requires you to stand with one leg 6 inches off the ground while keeping your hands at your sides. The officer asks you to count until they tell you to stop. If you waver while on one foot or make any type of motion during the test, the officer can claim that you failed and are intoxicated.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures jerking movements in the eyes while you follow an object such as a pen from side to side. Nystagmus isn’t always visible to the naked eye, but when a person consumes alcohol, there’s more eye-jerking. If the officer detects such motions, they can claim you’re intoxicated.
The walk-and-turn test requires you to take several steps from heel-to-toe in a straight line without wavering. If you stumble, put your arms out or appear uncoordinated, the officer can claim you failed.
Challenging field sobriety test results
A good DUI defense strategy is to challenge the results of field sobriety tests. Police sometimes make errors when administering them, making it easier to have issues while you perform a test. It’s also possible to fail certain field sobriety tests due to coordination and balance issues. For example, women wearing heels or individuals with certain medical conditions like vertigo can easily fail the tests that measure balance.
Other medical issues can cause a person to fail a field sobriety test. Certain neurological disorders and injuries can affect your performance. Even weather and lighting conditions can impact the results of these tests.